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Underdog Chris King vows to compete for Northeast Florida votes

Chris King, an entrepreneur from Orlando running for Governort, returned to Jacksonville Thursday, his second straight day in Northeast Florida.

Florida Politics caught up with the Democrat ahead of his closed press visit to a church in the Springfield neighborhood, where the progressive political neophyte pitched his policy positions to faith leaders from the region.

King, who has television ads airing in the area, has been canvassing the state with his “Turning the Tide” tour, a push for criminal justice reform that includes opposition to mass incarceration, the death penalty, and private prisons; advocacy of cannabis legalization; voting rights restoration; and “ending the school-to-prison pipeline.”

His final stop on that 11-day “criminal justice” tour was Thursday evening at Florida Coastal School of Law.

In third or fourth place in most polls, King has concentrated his efforts below the I-4 corridor for most of the campaign.

However, there may be some hope yet. As he notes, a new Florida Atlantic University poll has King in a strong third place, within six points of first.

He sees room to grow, and that room is in Northeast Florida.

“I’m dedicated over the next three months to be here a lot,” King enthused. “In fact, it was one of the first markets where we went up on television. We went up in five markets, and Jacksonville is one of them. We think our message resonates in North Florida and the Jacksonville market.”

FP asked King, who is running in the progressive lane of the field with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, if he had any concern that they were cannibalizing each other’s votes.

He did not.

“I have had the ability to get progressives excited on some of my stances,” King said, “such as criminal justice, mass incarceration, the death penalty, and marijuana legalization. But I also have a real deep-seated economic vision for the state, which is another lane of voters I’m fighting for.”

King noted the “economy is not working for a lot of families,” even as “the wealthy and well-connected” flourish.

King went on to appraise his opponents.

When asked about Gwen Graham, the moderate in the race, King asserted that “voters want fresh ideas and new leadership.”

“Almost 50 percent of the voters are undecided,” King said, “we’ve got three candidates in the race who voters have known for years and years, their families for decades. I’m the only real new candidate in the race … something different” from the pack.

“What makes me different from Andrew Gillum or Gwen Graham or Philip Levine,” King asserted, “is my willingness to be pretty bold and visionary on the big ideas of Florida.”

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at

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